The Great Baby Caper
by Eugenia Riley, contemporary (2001)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52461-9

Romantic comedies need to be funny. That I agree. But The Great Baby Caper is mad, and not in a good way. It's mad in a "Take a chimpanzee, drug it into an OD, smash its head against a wall until its brain is pulverized, give it a word processor program and voila! The Great Baby Caper!" way. This book makes narcotics seem sobering.

Seriously, what is the author thinking?

The plot is this: a retiring CEO, using the word "eccentric" as an euphemism for "bonkers", decides to choose his successor via a treasure hunt thing. Heroine Courtney Kelly, if she wants to be the new CEO, will have to find an eligible bachelor, marry him in one day, and make babies. A CEO choosing his successors this way? You know what, I don't want to say anything about that one or I will get a heart attack.

The author makes Corkbrained consider sexual harrassment suits. I smile. And then Corkbrained decides to play along because she doesn't want to bother people at the workplace. My smile drops and I do a karate chop on this book.

It is so reassuring to read about a romance novel set in the 21st century where women are still judged by their procreative abilities. No doubt this will go a long way to making female romance readers feel empowered about their sexuality.

Then again, this may be another subversive attempt to make men read romance novels? But what kind of readers would these men be if they love this sort of intelligence-vacuumed stories?

Anyway, back to the story. Our heroine, with her obligatory protective chauffeur, surfs around pubs and bars looking for men, and all she get are drunks. I guess the sober ones must have run for their lives, turned gay, or seeked sanctuary in a Spanish monastery the moment they heard that Corkbrained here is crusing for husbands.

She finds the CEO's grandson, Mark Billingham, and learns that the CEO is actually doing a matchmaking thing between her and Mark. Seriously, you'd think a dinner and "Hi, Corkbrained, meet my grandson Yuck" will be a easier way. Then again, everyone's on amphetamines here, so I guess I shouldn't expect common sense.

Somehow Mark has been in love with Courtney ever since he saw her around in the company corporate videos. Here, I pause, remembering that obnoxious guy in Malcolm In The Middle who keeps security videos categorized via titles like Schoolgirls and Cheerleaders With Short Skirts, and decide that I really pity the cleaners who no doubt will have to scrape the stains off the wall of the video room every evening.

They shag anyway, Yuck and Corkbrained, and in the morning, Yuck proposes.

Corkbrained screams in anger. It is okay that her CEO is judging her value by her eggs, it is okay that she has to subject herself to the humiliation of getting a husband ASAP for a promotion, but she will NOT marry just because a man conspires with his granpa to get her to marry him! Even after they have had drunk and unprotected sex after he confessed his daily video porn sessions... I guess an intelligent, modern career woman like Corkbrained has to draw the line somewhere. Or maybe she just need another joint.

If you can figure out Corkbrained's logic, drop me a note. I can't, for the life of me, understand her logic. If "logic" is the correct word to use, that is.

The story hurtles down into the lower pits of hellish stupidity as it plunges at deathneck speed into a oopsie-pregnancy, marriage, ridiculous neurotic pregnant sex (it's not as kinky as it sounds, so settle down, horngoats), corporate espionage, some beyond-insulting "woman must put kids and biological clock above self" family Pampers moments, and my shrieks of agony as my brain bubbles and boils from being bombarded by all this ridiculous stupidity.

There is funny, and there is home-style lobotomy, and this author has crossed the line here. This romance novel can only be enjoyed by those readers who keep flaming me with those "it's just a romance novel, it doesn't have to be real, stupid!" emails or those with a very flexible sense of disbelief and high threshold for beyond-stupid plots, even more beyond-stupid heroines, stilted and unfunny "funny" dialogues, and - oh yeah, let's toss it in too - a fugly ugly cover.

I'll go swallow a live grenade now to wash off the traumatic aftereffects of this book.

Rating: 03

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